Astros' Cole tries to get back on track vs. Indians

Houston Astros starter Gerrit Cole will try to bounce back from the worst start of his career when he takes on the visiting Cleveland Indians and former UCLA teammate Trevor Bauer in the opener of a four-game series on Thursday night.

Cole, who finished fifth in the 2018 American League Cy Young Award voting with an 15-5 record and 2.88 ERA, is off to just a 1/3 start with a 5.22 ERA this season. He allowed nine hits and nine runs (eight earned) in just 4 1/3 innings in a 9-4 loss at Texas on Saturday.

Cole told the Houston Chronicle that he thought that he was tipping his pitches early in the contest and believes he has cleaned up any mechanical tics or indicators that may have helped Rangers hitters.

"I obviously didn't ask (the Rangers) if they knew what was coming, but I had kind of a gut feeling, and some of the guys on our team kind of identified what they could potentially be seeing," Cole said. "I had changed my set position a little bit from last year and actually anticipated maybe a little bit of an adjustment period, and unfortunately it all came crashing down in one game."

Cole didn't disclose exactly what may have been tipping off Texas hitters.

"It wasn't a big adjustment, and I was able to mix it up toward the latter half of the game, so we came up with a game plan this week on how to clean it up, and hopefully that will take care of it," he said.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch isn't worried about Cole, who is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two career starts against Cleveland, bouncing back on Thursday.

"I don't have any concerns about Gerrit," Hinch said. "Guys with his ability don't have the worst start of their tenure ... very often. I don't expect him to be anything but at his best."

Bauer (2-1, 2.20), who finished sixth in last year's Cy Young voting behind Cole, is a perfect 7-0 with a 3.18 ERA in eight career starts against the Astros.

Cleveland ended a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the visiting Miami Marlins on Wednesday afternoon as Jose Ramirez went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI.

Ramirez, who finished third in American League MVP voting in both 2017 and 2018, entered play Wednesday batting .157 with one homer and five RBI through 22 games.

"I always stay confident," Ramirez said. "I understand baseball has its ups and downs. I can only worry about what I can control, which is to play hard, and that's what I do -- go out and play hard every time."

Indians manager Terry Francona is confident Ramirez will overcome his slow start.

"I'm telling you I know he is going to be fine," Francona told reporters. "I think he is a great hitter. Guys go through tough times. He won't quit on himself. He won't hang his head. He'll keep plugging away.

"I'm telling you, you're going to look up and he's going to be among the league leaders. It's going to be fun to watch."

--Field Level Media
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